Are Sitcoms Deliberately Trying to Reduce LGBTQ + Representation in 2020?

by Vrinda Jain
Are Sitcoms Deliberately Trying to Reduce LGBTQ + Representation in 2020?

February 10, 2021

According to an annual study by L.G.B.T.Q advocacy group Glaad, the representation of the L.G.B.T.Q. community has fallen for the first time in five years.

Despite a turbulent year on T.V., the total number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, non-binary and asexual characters on television, cable and streaming services is still somewhat there, after a minor dip in representation.

Here’s what the findings of the report are.

Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Paul Stamets; Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.

Where We Are On TV- Numbers Say It All

The results were released in a study called Where We Are On TV available on Glaad.org. It assessed representation in the 2020-21 season, described as broadcast, cable and streaming programmes scheduled to start between 1 June 2020 and 31 May 2021.

Glaad’s survey found that 70 (9.1%) of the 773 series of regular characters expected to appear on televised scripted primetime television this season are L.G.B.T.Q.— a decrease of 1% point from last year’s record high of 10.2%

Across these channels, the 2020-21 season contained 360 L.G.B.T.Q. Characters which were lower in number from 488 in the 2019-20 season. However, the figures were expected to drop as the coronavirus pandemic forced networks and producers to stop producing some shows, which further affected L.G.B.T.Q artists. The survey did not include characters in series like Euphoria and Killing Eve in the research period.

Scripted cable shows reported the highest drop in L.G.B.T.Q. representation. Primetime series in the 2020-21 season featured 81 regular L.G.B.T.Q. Characters; that number was 121 last year. Thirty-seven recurring characters of the community appeared in the 2020-21 cycle, down from last year’s 94.

LGBTQ are excluded — and when we try to remind ourselves that we do exist, we face stereotypes or just aggression.

Some Highs, Some Lows

For the first time, the study reported that more than half of the L.G.B.T.Q. Characters in the primetime scripted cable series were people of colour. Streaming was the only medium where white L.G.B.T.Q. Characters surpassed non-white characters by 51%.

The number of transgender characters across television, cable and online declined to 29 from 38 last season, while the number of transgender actors portrayed or voiced increased from 82% to 90%. The portion of L.G.B.T.Q. characters that are bisexual increased marginally from 26% to 28%

Black roles on broadcast television stayed nearly the same at 22%, while Latino characters declined from 9% to 7%. The number of daily characters with disabilities rose significantly, to 3.5% from 3.1% last year, but still under-represents the approximate 26% of people with disabilities in the United States. According to the report, C.W. is the most multicultural broadcast network, while FX is a pioneer in cable networks, and Netflix claims title across streaming services.

Indian members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community celebrate the Supreme Court decision to strike down a colonial-era ban on gay sex, in Bangalore on September 6, 2018.

L.G.B.T.Q. Representation in India

Same-sex couples and other queer communities may be appropriate to more Indian youth than ever before, but within the limits of family and recognition of their identity and the right to freely express their gender preferences remain a constant challenge L.G.B.T. people.

In urban India, where social media and corporate campaigns have increased awareness of L.G.B.T. rights, the scenario is more up-to-date for gay men than for transgender or lesbian. While urban L.G.B.T. voices heard through various online and real-world outlets form an essential part of L.G.B.T. advocacy, they reveal only a small amount of the group’s diverse issues.

Twists & Turns In Indian Movies

Indian movies and the queer love story controversies have been an event of twists and turns. India has seen cinematic excellence with films such as Fire and Margarita with the Straw and has also seen blatant generalisation and racism in portraying a queer character. Cinema has come a long way when we speak of embracing queer people.

Earlier, the films depicted same-sex characters as effeminate characters that did not add much significance to the plot and were left there to add offensive humour. Today, though, the audience has shifted, and we see homosexual characters that are important to the movie’s story or the series.

The queer representation of characters in Indian films also saw a dramatic change from Fire in 1996 to Subh Mangal Zyada Savdhan in 2020. While characters had to stay in the closet back then and could hardly expose their authentic identity to the point where men and women could come out of the closet and reveal their true self, the situation is changing for good. Even the release of such films had dangerous repercussions earlier.

KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL, INDIA : Young Gay couple of LGBT Community kiss during the Queer march.

Indian Movies With L.G.B.T.Q. Representation


This film is based on a storey written by Ismat Chughtai’s. The writer and director of the film Deep Mehta explicitly discussed homosexuality and women’s sexual freedom in the movie. Unfortunately, the film did not go too well with the fanatical Indian political groups that staged demonstrations to ban the movie.


Hansal Mehta’s film was told from the perspective of Professor Ramchandra Siras, who was suspended from Aligarh University on ethical grounds when a few men broke into his house and found him having consensual sex with another adult male.

Margarita With A Straw

Featuring Kalki Koechlin as a cerebral palsy patient, Margarita With a Straw is a vital film due to its sensitive exploration of disability and female sexuality. The film won several prizes at a variety of global film festivals.

Naanu Avanalla

This Kannada feature film is based on the life of Living Smile Vidya, a transgender person who did grow up male but eventually accepted her feminine identity. The film was premiered at the 2015 Melbourne International Film Festival and lead actor Sanchari Vijay won the National Award for his powerful performance.


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